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Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The…
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Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General… (edition 2012)

by Gigi Amateau

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334338,203 (3.83)1
Member:makaiju
Title:Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel
Authors:Gigi Amateau
Info:Candlewick (2012), Hardcover, 240 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:2012, ARC, amazon vine, fiction, historical fiction, 19th century, 18th century, america, virginia, slaves, slavery, children's fiction, young adult, rebellion, revolution, law, united states, plantation

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Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel by Gigi Amateau

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In 1800, an African-American slave named Gabriel planned a rebellion to gain freedom for the slaves of Virginia. Inspired by the successful revolution in Haiti, Gabriel and his two brothers organized thousands of slaves, Native Americans and even some whites to rise against their masters. However, the plot was uncovered and the leaders captured before it could be executed, and today Gabriel is largely forgotten. Starting from Gabriel's formative years, when he learned to read and write beside his future master, the novel follows the young man through his training as a blacksmith and brief marriage, weaving in original newspaper articles, courtroom transcriptions and letters pertaining to Gabriel's heroic attempt to free his people and bring equality to all.

I'm not quite sure who the intended market for this book is. The writing style aims young, with a simple style that is easy to follow. The dialogue is spare; although the whites speak “proper” English and the slaves use a more colloquial speech, individual characters all talk in more or less the same way. But while the writing seems perfect for a children's book, the themes are more young adult. Sex is implied several times, but it is done discreetly and indirectly. The story also starts on the slow side, and takes a while to build up to something entertaining. I imagine kids wouldn't have the patience to wait, but perhaps a teenager can.

I was really intrigued by the subject. Before this book, I hadn't heard of Gabriel or his attempted rebellion. Although I finished the book with a basic understanding of the facts of his life, I don't feel that I know the historical Gabriel at all. This is partly because the book – at least, the advance reader's copy that I received – does not contain any sort of bibliography or notes on sources. Although the back cover claims that “authentic” original documents are included, there's nothing in the text to confirm this assertion. It would have been nice to have, at minimum, a Foreword or Author's Note or something to let the reader know where history ends and the author's imagination begins. ( )
  makaiju | Feb 27, 2013 |
This beautiful but tragic story is based on actual events relating to the slave Gabriel, who had the temerity, in 18th Century Virginia, to dream of freedom.

The author imagines Gabriel’s interior life, based on what is known about his actual circumstances. Born into slavery on a tobacco plantation in 1776, Gabriel was taught to read and write. As he grew up and acquired the skills of a blacksmith, he was also hired out to Richmond to bring in more money for his master. There he interacted with free blacks and white laborers and heard not only the ideas of freedom and equality touted by the American Revolution, but of the successful uprising in Saint Domingue led by black slaves that culminated in the end of slavery there. Why, he asked, couldn’t that happen in America?

He recruited others, and worked on obtaining weapons. Their rebellion was scheduled to start August 30, 1800. Not only did a torrential rain intervene, but two slaves confessed the plan to their masters. Many of the conspirators were caught, some were executed, and some were exiled to other states. A rare few were pardoned. Gabriel of course was not among them, and was hanged on October 10.

Ms. Amateau tries to recreate not only Gabriel’s thoughts during his life, but the reactions of his mother and later his wife, Nanny, to the exceptional man that Gabriel grew up to be. Nanny, as courageous as her husband, also participated in the planning for the rebellion. The author includes reproductions, interspersed throughout the text, of documents from the time relating to Gabriel’s rebellion, capture, sentencing, and execution.

Evaluation: The plotline of this book and of Gabriel’s true story were only bearable for me because, unlike a movie or television production, there are no visuals of violence, and no actual faces I could attach to those who would perpetuate slavery (with the notable exception of James Monroe, then Governor of Virginia). It is meant to be a book you can bear, and yet – it is hard. The prose is lovely, and explicit evils of slavery are kept to a minimum, but the pain and awfulness of slavery cannot be hidden. Nor should it be! It is a real enough story, and should be told; should be borne. Research notes are appended to the text.

While this book is being marketed as Middle Grade, I didn’t see any reason why it could not also or alternatively be labeled Young Adult or Adult.

Highly recommended!

Note: On August 30, 2007 Governor Tim Kane informally pardoned Gabriel, saying that his motivation had been "his devotion to the ideals of the American revolution — it was worth risking death to secure liberty." ( )
  nbmars | Feb 7, 2013 |
Author: Gigi Amateau
Published By: Candlewick Press
Age Recommended: Adult
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Book Blog For: GMTA
Rating: 4

Review:

"Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows, and The Black General Gabriel was really some read for me. As I continued my read I wondered if I could make it through it and I did. This author did a wonderful job with this storyline. I will say she did a great job with all the characters that really added much to "Come August, Come Freedom. I felt that this was a well done dialog of a fictional account of this conspiracy of a slave know as Gabriel Posser. This slave was born in 1776 in Virginia...later to be hung in late October 1800. It was not a happy novel for me but I did make it through because this author did a good job in bringing it to the reader mainly to be know by a few historians and some folklorists. Yes, I have even heard of this person and even the song 'Posser Gabriel'. Now this read is not for everyone...so be aware of that in choosing the title. Do your research.

I believe the author did a OK job with this story and if you are in for a read that may not have a happy ending but I am sure it may have happened. History like this have played this way for some of us. ( )
  arlenadean | Jan 11, 2013 |
A very well-done fictional account of the 1800 slave conspiracy led by the man known as Gabriel Prosser. Amateau's story follows Gabriel from childhood to execution, fleshing out details of his biography and exploring the roots of his plans to lead a great rebellion. Recommended. ( )
  JBD1 | Aug 2, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0763647926, Hardcover)

An 1800 insurrection planned by a literate slave known as "Prosser’s Gabriel" inspires a historical novel following one extraordinary man’s life.

In a time of post-Revolutionary fervor in Richmond, Virginia, an imposing twenty-four-year-old slave named Gabriel, known for his courage and intellect, plotted a rebellion involving thousands of African- American freedom seekers armed with refashioned pitchforks and other implements of Gabriel’s blacksmith trade. The revolt would be thwarted by a confluence of fierce weather and human betrayal, but Gabriel retained his dignity to the end. History knows little of Gabriel’s early life. But here, author Gigi Amateau imagines a childhood shaped by a mother’s devotion, a father’s passion for liberation, and a friendship with a white master’s son who later proved cowardly and cruel. She gives vibrant life to Gabriel’s love for his wife-to-be, Nanny, a slave woman whose freedom he worked tirelessly, and futilely, to buy. Interwoven with original documents, this poignant, illuminating novel gives a personal face to a remarkable moment in history.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:30:19 -0400)

Imagines the childhood and youth of "Prosser's Gabriel", a courageous and intelligent blacksmith in post-Revolutionary Richmond, Virginia, who roused thousands of African-Americans slaves like himself to rebel.

(summary from another edition)

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